Spring 2004 Survey: Politics and Current Issues
General Purpose | Major Findings | Interview Schedule

General Introduction
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General Purpose, Questions, and Sample

The topic of the spring 2004 survey was suggested by alumna Patricia Forts, a sociology major from the class of '81, and her husband Jeff, a political science major also from the class of '81. In a Presidential election year, with interest in politics heightened by the primaries, it was timely to focus the spring 2004 HCSS on politics and current issues. Like many of the other HCSS topics, there is much speculation about and anecdotal evidence regarding the political views and engagement of college students. Yet, once again, surprisingly little systematic empirical evidence is available.

Specifically, the spring 2004 survey asked students about the following:

  1. Political participation, such as registering to vote and campaigning for candidates for political office.
  2. Knowledge of home state governor and home district Congressional representative.
  3. Political orientation and political party preference.
  4. Parents' party preference and interest in politics.
  5. Students' interest in politics and public affairs.
  6. Trust in government and satisfaction with the direction of the country and current economic conditions.
  7. Interest in and candidate preference in the 2004 Presidential election.
  8. Opinions on current issues, including the war in Iraq, abortion, gay marriage, and capital punishment.
  9. Feelings toward different groups in American society, such as liberals, conservatives, the military, the police, and feminists.
  10. Involvement in student government.

The bulk of the questions on political participation and interest were drawn from the National Election Study (NES), which conducts biennial surveys of the American electorate. Questions on current issues were drawn from the GSS or modeled after items used by Gallup and other polling agencies.

The survey was launched on March 15, and all but three interviews were carried out between March 21 and April 20. A sample of 220 respondents was randomly selected from the 2,592 Holy Cross students enrolled and on campus as of March 2004. The population thus excluded students who were studying away or abroad or who had taken a leave of absence. A total of 195 interviews were completed, yielding an 89 percent response rate and a margin of sampling error of about 7.2 percent.

Among the 195 respondents, 53 percent were female, 82 percent were white, 95 percent ranged in age from 18 to 22 years old, and 77 percent identified themselves as Catholics. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents lived on campus. By academic class, 25.6 percent were first-year students, 25.6 percent second-year, 19.0 percent third-year, and 29.7 percent fourth-year.

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